How 4 Funeral Home Websites Went Viral (& You Can Too!)

going viral

The internet can be a strange place sometimes… sure, there is a wealth of awesome information out there on the web that helps us live better, work better, and serve our families better (hopefully our blog is one of those information sources for you!) But every once in awhile, a unique story will pop up on the internet, spread like wildfire, and even find its way into our offline lives.

For instance, remember the llamas that escaped a Phoenix retirement home on a quest for freedom? Or how about the dress that no one could decide if it was blue and black, or white and gold? Everyone from my grandmother with a dial-up internet connection to my nerdy coworker was asking me whether I thought the dress was blue or white. (For the record, it’s definitely blue.)

But what caused these unique stories to spread like crazy… more so than the thousands of other articles, videos and stories we see throughout the day? Something about these stories connected with people in a way that the average news story never does, and it caused them to go viral.

What It Means To “Go Viral”

Funny llama videos and mind-bending dress photos aren’t the only kind of stories that can go viral. In fact, many people assume that your content has to be seen by millions of people in order for this phenomenon to happen. But the truth is, a viral piece of information is anything that is shared rapidly and widely outside it’s normal audience.

For example, we wrote a blog on the most amazing funeral songs of all time that, at the time, didn’t seem too different from the regular content that we share on our funeralOne blog, but it managed to rack up over a million views and has received 160 comments since it was first published – even from people outside of the funeral profession. Something in this article connected with our audience, and got them excited to share and engage with it.

And this isn’t the only piece of funeral content we’ve seen go viral. Over the years, many of our friends in the funeral profession have had their websites go viral because of their social memorial pages. And when this happens, it isn’t just a point of conversation – it’s a huge boost of recognition and revenue for the funeral home, because it drives hundreds (and sometimes thousands!) of new families to their funeral home website.

Today, we’re taking a look at what made a few of these memorial pages go viral in the first place, and giving you a few tips on how you can help your own funeral home achieve viral success – and increased business!

How To Make Your Funeral Home Go Viral

1. Change the way you’re writing obituaries

There are a lot of great lessons to be taken from viral content… especially when it comes to the story that was shared and the way that the content was written. And when it comes to a social memorial pages, there is no story more important than the obituary.

The last thing that funeral homes should be using when writing someone’s obituary is a fill-in-the-blank template. After all, life is not a one-size-fits-all, fill-in-the-blank event, so why should a loved one’s final story be written this way? Instead, use a mix of storytelling and emotion to create a story that people will be excited to share.

viral obituary

For example, the obituary above posted on Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home’s website was recommended over 330 times. (Click here to read the full obituary.) Why did it perform so well? Because the life story that was shared was more than just service information and life facts. It was an emotional, honest, and even funny look at a person’s full life. Family and friends landing on Jason Moszer’s obituary got to know a little bit more about their loved one, and they left the page feeling like they had a better understanding of who he was as a person… rather than knowing his birth facts and family history.

2. Analyze your most popular memorial pages

If you want to create a social memorial page that is going to connect with friends and family, you have to understand what kind of content they respond to. The best way to do this is to take a look at some of your most popular memorial pages (a good indication of a popular memorial page is one with a lot of Facebook recommendations or online shares), and see if you can find common themes among your top pages.
viral obituary

For example, a common theme among Martin & Castille Funeral Home’s most popular memorial pages are family and friends logging on frequently to show their support through Sympathy Gifts. In the memorial page above, over 20 people logged onto Juliana Gerami’s obituary page specifically to show an expression of sympathy with a hand-delivered gift. And each time they did, the action was not only shared with all of the people on Juliana’s social memorial page, but also with the purchaser’s Facebook friends. This exposes the memorial page to new eyes that may not have found your funeral home otherwise, and leads to a huge influx in web traffic to your funeral home website… In Martin & Castille’s case, it led to a memorial page that went viral, with over 1,600 people recommending the page above.

3. Include visual elements

Nobody wants to click on a webpage, only to be confronted with a wall of words that they have to read through. Instead, today’s consumers want photos, videos and visuals to help them connect to their emotions and engage them. But this doesn’t mean that one main photo anchoring a memorial page will be enough. Instead, you should have a variety of photos and videos from throughout a loved one’s life featured on their tribute page. That way, the many people that came in and out of their life at different stages can connect with the photos and be reminded of the person they knew and shared memories with.

viral obituary

Shelley Funeral Chapels took the importance of visuals one step further by uploading a loved one’s Tribute Video right onto their social memorial page. Friends and family from all over were able to watch the memorial video, share their own sentiments, and even start a conversation by commenting on the video. Plus, with a tribute video, the funeral home was able to include an entire life’s worth of photos that people could connect to, rather than having to choose just one or two. They could even include photos of the loved one with different friends and family members. This gives a personal element to the tribute page that encourages people to share the video, because they are a part of it. (As you can see, Pamela Woitalla’s page was recommended over 550 times!)

4. Give people social sharing buttons

Last, but certainly not least, if you want your funeral home website to go viral, you need to give people the tools to share it. With f1Connect’s social memorial websites, it’s never been easier for your families to share and promote their loved one’s memorial page (and, in turn, bring new visitors to your website). Users can log in using their Facebook profiles, share photos right to their own timelines, and even recommend the memorial page to other family and friends they think would be interested in sharing their own stories. This is great for both your funeral home and your families, because it helps them get the word out about the funeral service in a quick period of time, and it helps new families become familiar with your funeral home!

viral obituary

Just look at Jenna Mosier’s social memorial page, above, hosted on Hinsey Brown Funeral Service’s website. Because family and friends were able to easily share the obituary and service information on Facebook, Twitter and Google + with f1Connect’s easy social sharing buttons, over 1,950 people recommended the page. That’s a huge boost in new traffic for your funeral home, and an extraordinary amount of stories and memories to be shared with the family. All-in-all, it was a viral success.

If you would like to learn more about how you can get started with f1Connect today, click here to sign up for a free demo!


Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments.

  1. Joe Conley

    Great article! While not associated with the funeral profession I have befriended many owners and employees…maybe I missed my calling.

    I have written and delivered 159 eulogies in the past 20 years or so plus written and assisted others with obituaries. In each scenario you need to do as teachers advised on writing reports…know your subject.

    Making things personable and detailed to present each individual as their own unique self is or should be the goal…always. Getting outside-the-box is a must. Reach for making that comfort zone available to all who read the obituary and experience the person in a new light.

    Again….Great article!

  2. Rilee Chastain

    Joe, great insights! Thanks so much for sharing!